Shard says "Hey, Ash. Are you ready?"
"Yeah, we are ready."
Shard says "Good, you have ten minutes. Your match with Drake will be the first match."
"Okay, sounds good."
Shard seems nervous and acts like he wants to tell me something but in the end he just walks away. At a guess I would say he has probably been ordered to stay away from me. Kriton is most likely the one who ordered him to not help me, he wants me to be crushed quickly.
I can see Drake across the field with his troop, he seems to be giving last minute instructions. That is something I don't need to do, my men are fully trained and will respond to commands. They are standing around chatting, they currently don't look like soldiers at all.
That is because I instructed all of them to wear cloaks, only Shard and Fallon have seen their armor so far. Some of the crowd are pointing and laughing, they will soon be shocked. Looking at the stands it would seem the entire court came with the king to watch the competition.
There is quite a bit of laughter among them as well, but I will enjoy wiping the smug looks from their faces. A man in armor stands up and steps forward once the ten minutes are up, he must be the captain who is judging today. He announces Drake first and calls him to the field, then he calls me as the opponent.
Instantly my troop goes from a disorganized mob to a column perfectly spaced. At my command of ready they drop the cloaks and pick up the shields and spears that had been laying on the ground. The crowd goes silent as my troop starts advancing in lock step.
The judge watches both troops and once he determines we are ready he calls for the match to begin. Drake's troop starts moving forward in a spearhead formation.
My troop instantly shifts to ten rows of five and move forward to meet Drake's. When only twenty feet seperate the two troops I hear Drake shout something. His troop stops and all of them pull small crossbows out from behind their backs.
At my command my troop stops, the front row lock their shields together. The back four rows raise their shields to create the turtle shell above them. All the bolts fired by Drake's troop hit the shields and bounce off, not a single one of my troop is injured.
The look of shock on Drake's face is priceless and I hear gasps from the crowd. As soon as the last bolt falls to the ground my troop returns to formation and resumes their advance. When only ten feet seperate the two troops, my troop brings their spears down and picks up speed.
For the competition all weapons used are blunted, but being hit by a blunt spear with a person's full weight behind it still hurts a lot. Before Drake's troop can recover from the shock of their trick failing, my troop hits them. Almost half of Drake's troop goes down under the spears in the first impact.
My troop as one drop their spears and draw their short swords as they advance into Drake's troop. The remaining enemies try to fight back but the long swords they are using are rendered ineffective. My people work together in pairs, one will block with the shield while the other stabs with the short sword.
The main problem with a long sword is the amount of space needed to wield it. By using short swords my people can stand shoulder to shoulder and still fight without any problems. This is how Rome conquered the world back in their day, discipline triumphs over strength.
Even I would have trouble facing my troop, the only reason I could win is because of my overwhelming strength. Not even five minutes have passed since the match started and all of Drake's troops have been defeated. What's more, my troop didn't suffer a single casualty, a flawless victory!
At my command my troop retreats to where they dropped their spears. After sheathing their short swords they pick up the spears and stand in perfect formation. They don't look like they are even winded after wiping out the enemy troop.
The spectators are completely silent, it even takes a minute for the judge to remember his place and announce me as the victor. There is no applause, the crowd is still staring in shock and trying to figure out what happened.
Drake yells "Impossible!!"
My troop spins around in perfect sync and starts marching back to the waiting area. Behind me I can hear Drake cursing at his men trying to get them on their feet to attack again. The royal captain again announces me as the winner and this time people wake from their daze to start clapping.
Drake yells "Loser's Challenge!!!"
I stop and turn around to face Drake as my troop continues marching. His face is beet red and he looks like he is about to start foaming at the mouth.
"Are you sure?"
Drake yells "Yes! I challenge you!"
Drake doesn't even wait for the duel to be announced, he just charges straight at me. When he gets to about five feet away he suddenly stops, pulls out a hand crossbow, and fires at me. The bolt is aimed right at my eye and as it is flying at me I can tell it is not blunted.
He actually means to kill me, he will claim afterwards that it was an accident I'm sure. Unfortunately, for him, I am far too quick for such a cheap trick to work. Instead of dodging the bolt, I simply grab it out of the air, mainly because it will be more impressive.